After Lake Superior accident, women on mission to find paralysis - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

After Lake Superior accident, women on mission to find paralysis cure

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Kelsey Peterson and Madeline Brown have been spending their summers on Madeline Island for years.

"I've been coming up every summer of my life," said Brown, "Starting when I was six months old, that was my first trip to the Island and I haven't missed a summer since."

But Peterson's memories on the Island now include one life-changing moment on the Fourth of July 2012.

"I was partying and I was out really late and I went out to Long Island with some friends on their boat, and in an altered state of mind, forgot where I was and I dove into three feet of water," said Peterson, "I immediately knew I was paralyzed."

Peterson broke her neck and three vertebrae, a spinal cord injury that would sideline her dreams.

"I was going to start a dance company at the time that this happened," she said, "I dedicated most of my life to dance. I got my degree from the University of Montana in dance."

Now, she's on a new path. Peterson and Brown, who has her MFA in photography, just finished a tour around the country, interviewing people with spinal cord injuries and those working toward finding a cure for paralysis. The footage will eventually become a full-length documentary.

"This deserves a spotlight, so people can get their independence back," Peterson said, "This research is there, and it's happening, and it's amazing, and you really never know when a discovery is going to happen."

The project is called The Cure Map, with the goal of mapping out progress in spinal cord injury research throughout the country.

"So you can see, kind of, what's happening all over the country," Brown explains.

Beyond highlighting research, the friends hope The Cure Map will inspire people with spinal cord injuries.

"You lose more than just your body when you get paralyzed. You lose your sense of self worth in a big way," Peterson said, "We need to unite as a community and help people see that they still have that part of them, it's just been so traumatized and damaged."

It's a mission that Peterson says has helped with her own healing.

"The dancer in me needed something creative [to work on]," she said, "Like this [The Cure Map] is me dancing, just in a different way, and it's the best I've felt in almost five years."

The pair are doing more filming this summer, including over the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, during which they'll revisit Peterson's accident. 

They hope to start post-production on the documentary this fall and finish the film by the fall of 2018. 

They are still fundraising for the film. If you'd like to help, click here

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